Proprietors Janet and Warren Heinly have welcomed a variety of guests to their James Manning House Bed & Breakfast (www.jamesmanninghouse.com , 570/253-5573, 421 Wayne Street, Bethany, PA 18431) during its first two years of operation, from as close as Pennsylvania and New York to as far away as Europe and Canada, California and Idaho. The couple, who are from Berks County, PA, share a similar ethic of putting family first, and this is reflected in the interest they have in their guests and the homey way they care for them.
“Our visitors have complimented us on our cleanliness and décor,” says Janet. “People tell us over and over that they feel welcome, like family.” The day begins with a hearty breakfast, typically a fruit appetizer, a meat dish, eggs or pancakes, potatoes (“a Pennsylvania Dutch staple,” says Janet) and a breakfast sweet. (See website for sample menus.) Meals are cooked by Warren in the big kitchen, where guests are welcome to hang out for conversation during meal preparations. As part of the extensive renovation, Warren even planted fruit trees and blueberry bushes, “helping the b and b go back in time when each homestead supplied fresh produce for meals,” says Janet. Janet herself has planted many flower gardens. In addition to the three bedrooms, decorated with poster beds and quilts, there are sitting rooms, patios and outdoor spaces for guests to rest and relax. The peaceful, park-like setting is enhanced by benches, a koi pond, strolling paths and flower beds.
The Federal-style building was completed in 1819 as the home of James Manning, who came to Bethany in 1815 as a merchant. He served in various capacities for Bethany, the then county seat. He also started the first newspaper in the county and the first Sunday School. He and his wife, Charity Wilder Manning, had 11 children.
The house remained in family hands until 1941, says Janet, and has many interesting features. “The brick is said to have come from England adding ballast to the ship. Many of the panes in the six over six windows are original, and boast being made in the Bethany Glass Works” with which Manning had some involvement. Among the original features in the house are moldings and mantles, gleaming wide plank floors and open staircases. “Although the five remaining fireplaces are not currently wood burning, each unique mantle adds character to the rooms.”
As the realization to a dream of having a bed and breakfast, Janet and Warren, both retired teachers from the Wayne County school system, purchased the property in 2005. They’d lived in the Bethany neighborhood since 1978, in a log house in Bethany Heights “less than one mile (as the crow flies)” from the James Manning House. The pair named the b and b after its original owner to honor “the history of the early settlers and fine builders of the county.” The house underwent several years of intense renovation and, Janet says, “in 2009, we were honored with an Historic Preservation Award by the Wayne County Historical Society for the adaptive reuse of the James Manning House.”
Visitors to the b and b can take advantage of the many cultural features of the region, including the boutique shopping, eateries and galleries in Honesdale. The borough of Honesdale is the birthplace of the American railroad, and history abounds. The borough has festivals throughout the year, including the Roots & Rythym Music & Arts festival in June. Situated in the Poconos and near the Catskills, there are plenty of places to delight the adventurer as well, with hiking, biking, boating, fishing and horseback riding.
What is most important to James Manning House hosts Janet and Warren? “Making sure our guests are comfortable and have all the things they need, which is, of course, just natural to our hospitality. Living in an area rich with a culture including barns with hex signs, farmers’ markets and ‘gut essen’’ (or ‘good eating’), we cook simple, tasty food and we welcome guests of all types in our home.”